What Californians can learn from hurricanes Harvey and Irma – Orange County Register

Take notice

Southern Californians might be safe from the devastating hurricanes that are pounding the Gulf states and Caribbean, but we should take time to prepare for disasters that come without warning in the West.

100 years of data and weeks of warning

Nearly 80 percent of people in Southern California are not prepared to deal with a major disaster. It might be difficult to plan for every type of emergency, but those who plan ahead stand a better chance of surviving a natural disaster or emergency. Officials in Texas warned residents about Hurricane Harvey days in advance but did not issue a mandatory evacuation. Florida is bracing for a more powerful hurricane, Irma, and issued mandatory evacuation orders for some areas. The hurricane is expected to hit Florida by Sunday.

You can follow all of NOAA’s updates on hurricanes at the National Hurricane Tracking Center.

Prepare yourself

Californians will not have weeks or even minutes of warning about a major earthquake. So take a few hours and make sure you are prepared for disasters including wildfires, landslides, pandemic, flooding, terrorism and more. You should be ready to provide for your own shelter, first aid, food, water and sanitation for three to seven days.

The American Red Cross and FEMA recommend every household should have a kit prepared for an emergency. A rule of thumb is to have enough food and water for every family member and pets for three days.

Disaster kits are recommended for home, work and your car as well as a family emergency plan for where to meet and whom to contact. For more information, go to FEMA.gov.

Here’s a link to the American Red Cross for emergency preparedness.

Strong winds

To become a Category 5 hurricane, a storm must have winds above 157 mph. Hurricane Irma’s sustained winds have been tracked at 185 mph, making it the most powerful the Caribbean has had. Irma is the third-most powerful storm on record behind two typhoons that had 190 mph winds that hit the Philippines in 2013 and 2016. Irma is tied for third with two other storms that formed near Southeast Asia.

Hurricane season

Hurricane season is at its peak. For Californians, the wildfire season is a big threat, and earthquakes occur at any moment.

Expected to return

This NOAA map shows the expected return period for a major hurricane in years.
Note: Both areas of Texas and Florida were right on schedule for another big storm.

Advance warning
Hurricanes tracked by NOAA’s National Hurricane Tracking…

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